This is an old school Chili Chicken every young Indian Mother from the 1980s was christened into when it came to Chinese cooking at home.
Finely Chopped’s Chili Chicken metaphor rekindled the desire to do what my Mum – a Mother of two very finicky daughters loved to cook. Okay, make that one – the me who believed that gourmet food everyday was my birthright. In other words, I was the problem child. I choked on Ilish maach bhaja, vegetables made a pocket around my throat, and I was happy eating luchi-mangsho for breakfast, lunch and dinner. While Little Sis B drank her milk, ate her egg yolks with panache and even relished uchche bhaja.
I grew up in Patna, which had its share of Chinese immigrants. The men were dentists and their wives ran thrifty beauty parlours. Giving the uninitiated populace of the capital of Bihar the Lily’s and the Chang’s salons. The rest of the 40% opened restaurants. The best Chinese food memory from my childhood was this family-owned place called Hsin Long (Thanks Kaushik for the correct spelling). The food was the greatest a 12-year-old had had. One day, we heard the restaurant had closed, it is hazy why they shut shop. We heard the family had left town after paying a huge ransom for living in Bihar to the then gunda state government. That also ended our monthly outing to a great Chinese restaurant.
Which meant we were stuck for life with my Mum’s Chili Chicken, which went on to become a bestseller in our extended family.
Ingredients for the ‘80s Chili Chicken are:
500 grams boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite-size pieces (I used thigh portions,which have the tenderness like drumsticks and the meatiness of breasts)
1 medium red onion, cut into quarters, peels separated
4-5 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 bell pepper/capsicum, diced
6-7 green chilies, cut into little pieces
Half cup white vinegar
Half cup dark soy sauce
Half cup green chili sauce
2 tablespoons Canola/vegetable oil
Heat oil in a wok and add the chopped garlic and green chilies. Sauté for a couple of minutes, do not brown the garlic.
Toss around the onions in the sauce and add the chicken pieces.
Cook for 5-7 minutes till the chicken becomes tender. Add the diced capsicum.
Cook for another 5-7 minutes till the sauces dry up a bit. Serve immediately.